Life

How to cook pork

A table that shows how to cook various cuts of pork.
A table that shows how to cook various cuts of pork.
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Courtesy of the Iowa Pork Producers Association

Finding the correct pork cooking temperature is the final step in plating a perfectly juicy, tender cut of meat. Pork today is very lean, making it important to not overcook and follow the recommended pork cooking temperature. The safe internal pork cooking temperature for fresh cuts is 145° F. To check doneness properly, use a digital cooking thermometer to measure the temperature at the thickest part of the cut without touching any bone. Once you have reached the desired internal temperature, remove from heat and let it rest for three minutes.

Fresh cut muscle meats such as pork chops, pork roasts, pork loin, and tenderloin should measure of 145° F, ensuring the maximum amount of flavor. Following these pork cooking temperature guidelines will not only result in a safe eating experience, but also preserve the quality of your meat for a juicy, tender, delicious meal.

The USDA recommends cooking chops, roasts, loins, and tenderloin to an internal temperature of 145° F, followed by a three-minute rest.

Ground pork should always be cooked to 160° F. Doneness for some pork cuts, such as small cuts that are difficult to test with a thermometer or large cuts that cook slowly at low temperatures, is designated as “tender.” Pre-cooked ham can be reheated to 140° F or even enjoyed cold, while fresh ham should be cooked to 145° F.

Adhering to these pork cooking temperature guidelines will result in an optimum eating experience of enhanced flavor and safety. The National Pork Board follows the guidance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Using a meat thermometer

Because pork can often be overcooked, checking the internal temperature often will help prevent dry pork. Cook pork until the internal temperature reaches between 145° and 160° F, followed by a three-minute rest time, and is a little pink inside. A digital, instant-read thermometer is a low-cost, must-have for every kitchen.

When inserted into the thickest part of the meat (without touching any bone), the temperature should register within a few seconds. Instant-read thermometers are not meant to be left in the meat during cooking. If you wish to invest a bit more, continuous-read digital thermometers are another option. Designed to be left in the meat during the entire duration of cooking, they often include a probe that is placed in the meat. The probe is connected via a cord to the thermometer unit, which can be placed on a countertop near the stove.